2015: A Year of Changes and New Beginnings

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2015 is here!!!!


For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to work out a plan to get me abroad working with more organizations focused on conservation more often. I racked my brain for days, months, even years trying to figure out how to make it work.


I have built up a career where I can save enough money to go on an extended vacation, but I couldn’t be gone much longer than a month. In the past, this set up has worked perfectly for me, but I’ve been itching to do more.


I want to get the word out to more people about all the different programs one can do to help out our beautiful planet and all it’s inhabitants.


Until I met an adventurous couple on one of my volunteer jobs, I had no idea how to make it work. They told me about the different hacks they use to cheapen their travel and how they make money on the road. They got me interested in blogging, which is the perfect way to inform more people about the different organizations I am working with or planning on working with.


That’s when I realized…..my dream is very doable!


Since meeting that couple I have been looking into blogging and trying to figure out where to start and ways to make money in-between projects. In the perfect world, I would make enough income off my blog to support myself and the projects that I will be working on, but that’s not totally realistic. I had to figure out a plan.

            Photo courtesy of www.freeimages.com


Getting certified to teach English


I have to be able to support myself even if that means working on projects for a couple of months and then teaching English or working on a farm in-between. After researching work opportunities abroad, I realized there are plenty of options out there. You just have to find them.


I was lucky enough to come across a deal on Groupon for a discounted English teaching certification online. I have met plenty of people who were traveling and teaching as they go and absolutely love it. This seems like the perfect way for me to replenish some funds after a long stint of volunteering.


There are a few areas that I am really interested in teaching where the cost of living is very low and the demand for teachers is high.


Thailand and other areas of southeast Asia are perfect for westerners looking for English teaching jobs. The cost of living is substantially lower than it is here in the states. That also means compensation is much lower as well, but I’ve read that a person can still built up a savings as long as they are smart with their funds. There are also many volunteer opportunities in southeast Asia that I have been eyeing. I can foresee myself spending a good amount of time there.


Eastern Europe is another great area for anyone looking to teach. Again the cost of living is very low and the demand for teachers is high. And who could beat the beautiful architecture and rich history of Eastern Europe!? The more photos I see of Prague and Dubrovnik, the more antsy I get to jump on a plane and head east.


                                  Photo courtesy of www.freeimages.com 


Volunteering in the US


You don’t have to go abroad to find a good organization to work with. I’ve been following a number of different groups in the US who rescue animals and keep them at various sanctuaries.


Since I’ll be road tripping from Los Angeles to Kansas to drop off my belongings at my parent’s house, why not try and hit up a couple of these organizations.


Best Friends Animal Society has been on my radar for years now. Best Friends is an organization that rescues any and all homeless animals. Their sanctuary is nettled in the canyons near Kanab, UT, and they have thousands of acres for all of their rescues to roam on. Horses, pigs, parrots, dogs, cats. They even help treat and rehabilitate wild animals that have been captured for personal pets or found injured.


Best Friends has been my big yearly donation a few times, and now it’s time for me to actually show my face at their sanctuary. What’s even more perfect is they are on the way to Kansas. I don’t think it could have worked out better!


I put in my application to volunteer yesterday, and what do I find this morning in my inbox but a confirmation securing my spot! Starting April 4, 2015 I will be working at Best Friends Animal Society for a few days before setting out on the road again.

Tiger yawning

                                                                 Photo courtesy of www.freeimages.com


I will also be making a trip to Dallas to visit my sister before leaving the country. Dallas is home to another great organization called Insync (no not the band).


Insync works with large cats that have been bought in the exotic animal trade. More times than not, these beautiful beasts are given unfit living spaces and improper nourishment. They are left to suffer once the owner becomes bored with them or realizes they cannot support such a large animal.


That’s were Insync comes in. They started with a single cougar abandoned at the veterinary clinic and have grown to house dozens of large cats saving them from an ill fate of starvation or being euthanized.


I haven’t turned in my application to Insync just yet since they are a ways outside of Dallas, and I will not have my own means of transport. I’m very hopeful that I will have an opportunity to visit and work at their shelter, and will keep you posted on my progress.


After I leave Dallas, I will travel east making my way to New York where I plan to fly out.

1340930_21141707Photo courtesy of www.freeimages.com


Plans for volunteering abroad


My first stop…..Borneo. I have been looking at different programs for quite some time. Once I heard of the terrible atrocities happening to the wildlife, I knew I had to help. Forests are burning at a rapid rate to clear lands for palm plantation farming and animals are being killed in the fire or pushed out without a place to live.


The native wildlife is losing their homes at a rapid rate, and I want to spread awareness and let people know what they can do to help.


I have narrowed down my options to a few organizations to start with.

Photo courtesy of www.freeimages.com 


Living on the beach


The first program I am planning on doing is the Borneo Marine and Sea Turtle Conservation. For decades, fisherman have used the destructive methods of dynamite and cyanide fishing. This has left their fragile ecosystem in shambles. Coral reefs have been destroyed leaving only open sand. Fish species have dwindled down to critical levels, and the endangered Green and Hawkbill Turtles are losing their nesting grounds.


With Borneo Marine and Sea Turtle Conservation, I will be living in a tent on the beach for multiple weeks helping to rebuild this shattered underwater habitat. Volunteers will be diving everyday monitoring the coral reef and helping to rebuilt what was lost during blasting. The more coral the fish have to live and hide in, the more aquatic species will return including the large predators that left this area long ago.

Living on the beach is reason enough for me to want to go, but another perk of the program is my SCUBA certification will be extended to Rescue Diver by the time I am done. It’s like the program is paying for itself!

                                                                  Photo courtesy of www.freeimages.com

Moving to the mainland


A couple of programs I’ve been eyeing are rehabilitation centers for exotic wildlife. Indonesia and surrounding areas are hubs for transporting illegal wildlife to be sold as pets in the western world. Sadly many of these animals die either in transport or they are euthanized after capture since they cannot be released back into the wild after such a traumatic experience.


The rehabilitation centers helps rescue these poor creatures and ready them to go back to their natural home. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. When the animal is deemed unfit to go back into the wild, they are placed in a permanent home either at the rehabilitation center or at a sanctuary.


I’ve heard mixed reviews about the rehab centers. Some people say they do more harm than good. They claim the number of animals that actually get released back into the wild is quite low compared to the number that come in.


Others claim rehabilitation is a wonderful way to help the animals. Most rehab centers offer educational programs where schools can come in and view the all the creatures being treated at the time. The key to saving this planet is by educating the younger generations. This is something I strongly believe.


Are the animals still in enclosures at the rehab centers? Yes, but they are far better taken care of than some schmo who feels the need to own an orangutan or chimpanzee. The people who work at the rehab centers are dedicating their lives to help the animals not exploit them for their own benefit.

1118992_88791171 Photo courtesy of www.freeimages.com


My other option is working in a national park helping preserve the natural landscape. This in turn helps keep wildlife habitats in place. One of the big jobs volunteering at the national park is re-forestation. As I stated above, the forests are being burnt at a rapid rate to clear land for palm oil plantations. This project goes into these burnt lands and replants native trees. Volunteers will be responsible for planting new seeds, nursing saplings, and monitoring the ongoing re-forestation project.


Another job for volunteers is educating locals about conserving their land and saving their environment. Part of the program is spent living with a host family and teaching the local villages about conservation. Volunteers will also work on a sustainable farm where we will learn the effects of palm oil plantations and logging and what we can do to stop their destructive ways and become more sustainable.


I won’t have as much of a hands on experience with the animals at this program, but I like the idea of saving their habitats more than actually getting to be face to face with them, and I know I’ll see plenty of wildlife when I’m out planting.


So there you have it. These are my plans through the summer. After I am done in Borneo, I’ll have to work a little and rebuild some funds. I’m looking at Prague.


Then I’ll head back to southeast Asia for some more programs. I’ll keep you all posted on my schedule once I have confirmation from all the programs.


Cheers to you all and Happy 2015! May it be a great year for all of us!!!!


Do you have a certain volunteer program(s) that you have done or would like to do? I love hearing about people’s passions and experiences, so please tell us your story or aspirations in the comments below.

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